Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
Benjamin C. Maxson
Problem. Surveys show that between 70% and 80% of all Adventist college-age youth, approximately 100,000 are attending non-Adventist colleges (Dudley & Sahlin, 2010, sidebar of study in email message from researchers). Social science has long demonstrated the importance of faith-development in the period of college life. Other studies have demonstrated the importance of spiritual life and development among college students (Astin, Astin, & Lindholm, 2011, pp. 276-299). Non-Adventist college degree programs do not include Adventist faith-development as a part of their regular college curriculum. An Adventist faith-development process is needed for the spiritual life and faith-development of all students attending non-Adventist universities.
Method. A twelve-week curriculum (Journey Bible Study) was developed introducing students to the mission and message of Jesus with primary reference to the Gospel of John, including the Synoptic gospels, and the rest of the Bible. Lesson guides include introductory ice- breaker questions (Journey Together), main passage of study (Road Map) and a small group reflection (My Journey) that meets on a separate occasion during the week. A leader’s guide (Back Story) was developed as part of the curriculum. Five basic spiritual disciplines (Five S’s) are suggested as a guide to enable participants to dig deeper into the study and develop spiritual habits. Interviews were conducted with random participants from four different groups who completed the twelve-week Journey study to determine their spiritual growth and faith development. Participant interviews included undergraduates, graduate students, and a retired professor/current Berkeley ACF faculty adviser. Participants were selected from universities across the North American Division including the University of California, Berkeley, Texas A & M University, College Station, Texas, and 2012 ACF Campus Ministry Training Institute participants. Seven interviews were conducted from a sample of these four groups. Participants were asked to reflect on their growth in understanding on the mission and message of Jesus as well as how their spiritual life was deepened through the study of scripture and following the five spiritual disciplines.
Results. Participants reported that the Journey study provided a look into the mission and message of Jesus that was fresh, challenging, and helped them integrate their life in Christ within their broader everyday life experience. Participants were challenged to discover that Jesus had a central message—“The Kingdom of God is at Hand” and already underway with Jesus accomplishments in the first Advent. Participants were also encouraged to see how open Jesus was to “check him out.” They saw how people spent time with Jesus before they made up their own minds about who he was. The spiritual disciplines employed in the Journey study along with the group interaction, enabled students go beyond Bible study and into a real encounter with God in the person of Jesus Christ. For many, Journey was the beginning of a whole new relationship with God—one that challenged their faith and helped them apply it on campus and on into their life following college.
Conclusion. Participants in the Journey Christian faith development process were introduced to a Jesus that many had never met before. Journey demonstrates that Christian faith begins by learning about who God is and connect with his mission and message. Participants learned that there was a central message in Jesus mission. The gospel was Jesus’ message, but they learned that the gospel of Jesus was the “good news” of God’s kingdom breaking into our present existence. Experiencing the gospel as God’s sovereign rule in the here and now helped participants integrate their faith in God on campus, at work, in their relationships—in all of life. The five spiritual disciplines in Journey encouraged participants to have a daily encounter with the living Christ. Ultimately, Journey introduced or reintroduced participants to a God who is present in every way and in their everyday life. Journey introduced participants to a brand new journey with God relevant to their life as a student.
Seventh-day Adventist college students--Spiritual life, Students--Spiritual life, Youth--Spiritual life, Church work with youth--Seventh-day Adventists, Church work with students, Spiritual formation
Pickell, Ronald R., "Christian Faith Development for Students on Non-adventist College and University Campuses" (2014). Project Documents. 101.